MiLB Spring Training 2015; March 31st vs. Yankees

The Phillies minor league teams played the Yankees again today.  The A teams were at Carpenter Complex.  There was an interesting mix of prospects among the line ups posted on Roberts and Ashburn Fields.  The Clearwater coaches were on Ashburn, the Lakewood coaches on Roberts.  Matt Imhof was warming up for Ashburn, and that fact made up my mind.

The Lakewood coaches were fielding the following players – Sandberg RF, Canelo, SS, Tocci CF, Hoskins DH, Hiciano LF, Tomscha 1B, Campbell 3B, Grullon C, Zier 2B, Harris DH, Zgardowski SP, Tromp/Mayorga/Fisher – Bench, Rios/Ramos/and maybe Therrien – relief.

The Clearwater line up was re-ordered when Domonic Brown came out to DH.  He would bat third in each of the first four innings.

Let me report on Brown before continuing.  He struck out swinging at an off speed pitch in the first inning.  In the second inning, he reached on a fielding error by the first baseman.  He dropped the ball, picked it up, bobbled it, picked it up again, and dropped it again.  Brown  barely beat the pitcher to the bag.  Walding followed with a line drive single to right.  Brown was hard pressed to make it to second.  He really seemed to labor when he tried to run.  At this point, he was lifted for a pinch runner.  He flied out to center in each of his next two at bats.  He made especially good contact on his last at bat.  After four at bats, he was done for the day.

The “Clearwater” line up was –

  • Drew Stankiewicz, SS
  • Jesmuel Valentin, 2B
  • Aaron Brown, CF
  • Andrew Knapp, C
  • Dylan Cozens, DH
  • Zach Green, 1B
  • Mitch Walding, 3B
  • Andrew Pullin, LF
  • Herlis Rodriguez, RF
  • Matt Imhof, SP
  • Lohman/Mora/Bass/Astudillo, Bench
  • Baker/Walter/Rayburn, Relief

Imhof did a very good Ricky Vaughn imitation on his first warm-up pitch, hitting high on the backstop.  Turned out to be a harbinger of things to come during his 5 inning outing.

First inning – the first batter doubled over Pullin’s head in left field.  The next batter walked on 4 pitches.  Imhof recorded his first strike out and a fly out to right.  Green dropped a pick off attempt that rolled far enough away to allow the runner to take third.  The next pitch was a fly out to Aaron brown in deep center field.  Imhof threw 9 balls among his 19 first inning pitches.  When he missed, he missed high.  Some batters helped him by fouling off some of his high pitches.  His fast ball was 86-88 mph.

Second inning –  Imhof got a broken bat, soft liner to Walding, then fell behind the next batter 2-0.  The next pitch cleared the left center fence.  He followed with a pop out to Valentin and his second strike out.  He had a better ball/strike ratio throwing only 6 balls among his 17 pitches.

Third inning – Three ground ball outs on 10 pitches, 5 balls.  Started each batter off with a ball out of the strike zone.

Fourth inning – started off with a ground out to short, then a ground single chopped up the middle.  A 5-pitch walk followed.  A wild pitch moved the runners up a base before a single to right scored both runners.  Imhof struck out the next batter, his third strike out of the day; but also threw another wild pitch.  A ground ball to Walding ended the inning.  Imhof threw 10 balls among his 21 pitches this inning.  He pitched from behind to the first four batters.  After the RBI single, he began throwing first-pitch strikes, and also started to get the ball down better than he had earlier in the game.

Fifth inning – three ground outs on 7 pitches, 2 balls.

I had Imhof at 74 pitches – 42 strikes, 32 balls; 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 WP.

Aaron Baker pitched the next 2 innings.

Sixth inning – the first batter homered on his first pitch.  He recovered with a line drive to Stankiewicz and his first strike out.  Baker would have been out of the ining on his next pitch but Valentin missed a hard one-hopper.  Baker had to throw an additional 10 pitches.  He gave up a double down the left field line that put runners on second and third.  He finally got out of the inning on a deflected 1-6-3 ground out.  The extra pitches doubled his count for the inning to 20 pitches, only 5 balls.  His fast ball was 87-88 and touched 90 mph.

Seventh inning – a dominating 10-pitch, 9-strike 1-2-3 inning that included his second strike out and two ground outs.

I had Baker at 30 pitches – 24 strikes, 6 balls; 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.

Kevin Walter came out for the final 2 innings and would pick up the come-from-behind win with 2 scoreless innings.

Eighth inning – another dominating inning – 10 pitches, 8 strikes that included a strike out and a ground out.  He did allow a ground single to right, but Rodriguez nailed the batter on his turn at first, 9-3.  Walter’s fastball was in the low 90’s and topped out at 93 mph.

Ninth inning – the inning started with a line single to left.  The next batter hit into a 3-6-1 double play, almost.  Walter dropped the throw.  Three pitches later, he had a pop out to Valentin and a broken bat ground ball to Walding.  Eleven pitches, 10 strikes.  Walter finished the inning with the teams tied and the Phillies coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth.

I had Walter at 21 pitches – 18 strikes, 3 balls; 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1K.

Defensive plays that stood out were –

  • Brown’s running catch of a deep fly ball in the first inning,
  • Rodriguez’ assist throwing out a base runner at first in the eighth inning,
  • and, the 3-6-1 DP that almost was.  I overheard the coaches lamenting that this would have made two such plays on successive days.

Offensively, the Phillies collected 13 hits and 6 runs.  They put runners on base in every inning.

Stankiewicz and Valentin opened the first inning with singles, Valentin’s coming on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners.  He then stole second.  After two strike outs, Knapplined an RBI single to score one run.  Valentin was gunned out at the plate to end the inning.

In the second, Domonic Brown reached base on an error after two strike outs.  Walding singled.  Pullin loaded the bases when he reached on a wild pitch on strike three.  The fourth strike out of the inning ended the threat.

Stankiewicz reached on a single in the third and was ruled out on a steal attempt.

Aaron Brown was stranded after a single in the fourth.

Pullin was hit by a pitch in the fifth and stranded.

Knapp produced the Phillies second run on an RBI double in the sixth inning.

Pullin reached on an error in the seventh, the third time he had reached base without getting a hit.  He was stranded.

The Phillies tied the game in the eighth.  Stankiewicz started things off with his third single.  He scored on Aaron Brown’s double down the left field line.  He advanced to third and scored on a wild pitch.

Zach Green began the ninth with a double into the gap in left center.  Walding sacrificed the winning run to third.  Pullin drove in the winning run with a double over the drawn-in outfield.  One batter later, Stankiewicz added a tack on run with his fourth single.  (Yeah, I said tack on run in the bottom of the ninth.  Gotta love spring baseball.)

Today’s box score –

  • Stankiewicz:   4-5; 2 R, RBI, CS
  • Valentin:           2-5; SB, K
  • A. Brown:          2-4; 2 R, RBI, 2B,
  • Knapp:               2-4; R, 2 RBI, 2B
  • Cozens:              0-3; BB, K, CS
  • Green:                1-4; R, 2B, K
  • Walding:            1-3; SAC, 2 K
  • Pullin:                 1-3; R, RBI, 2B, HBP, K
  • Rodriguez:        0-4; 2 K
  • D. Brown:          0-4; K


  • Imhof:    5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 WP
  • Baker:    2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • Walter:   2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

It’s still too early and I expect some more movement between rosters, but I could really enjoy watching this group in Clearwater this season.  If the pitching staff includes the guys charting the game and standing behind the cage with me, well that would be cool too.

Tomorrow, I attend the Phillies-Braves game at Bright House.  It’s a camp day for the minor leaguers anyway.  Back to the Complex on Thursday.  The minor league teams play their last games on Friday and break camp on Saturday.

Extended Spring Training (XST) begins officially on April 9th with a series of camp days before games begin on Monday April 13th.  XST games are scheduled through June 10th.  Wednesdays are camp days, Sundays are off days.  XST is comprised of the players who will make up the Williamsport and Gulf Coast League rosters.  Some may be temporarily assigned to Clearwater if and when a body is needed.


69 thoughts on “MiLB Spring Training 2015; March 31st vs. Yankees

    1. It’s certainly a possibility. It isn’t something I anticipated. He was one of the players I had in mind when I alluded to roster movement above.. That said, Aaron Brown is physically and developmentally ahead of Tocci. The Reading outfield may determine where Brown and Tocci start the season.

    1. I think that would be the best thing for his development. Let him crush that leage for 4/6 weeks then move him up. The kid deserves the confidence build of crushing a league.

      1. And if he does crush at LKW and is moved up, I assume Aaron Brown goes to a corner…but then you have Cozens, Pullin and Herlis Rodriguez. Can become a logjam of sorts. Now one of them could be moved up to Reading at some point also.

        1. I think H.Rod starts below Clearwater. That would be one less piece of wood in the logjam. I have enjoyed watching him in the GCL and XST, but I don’t think he got enough playing time in 2014 to warrant a position in Clearwater. I would like to see him start every day in either low A, preferably Lakewood. He spent time on 3 different rosters last season. I’d like to see him play while in a stable environment.

            1. No, not injured. He played in XST and was added to the Threshers in early June, probably coincided with a starter’s injury. He was used sparringly as a 4th outfielder, played in 1 game and was later moved to Williamsport for a couple weeks (5 games). Then to the Complex for a week, up to Lakewood for 2 weeks (5 games), and back up to the Complex for 2 and a half weeks before going back to the Threshers for the final month of the season. While he was at the Complex, he didn’t play with the GCL but rather with the lower group of players there. He only managed to get 77 ABs (17 at Williamsport, 9 at Lakewood, and 51 at Clearwater) but finished 12 for 23 over his last 6 games played.

  1. From what I’ve been reading, it appears that Knapp, Joseph, A. Brown, Green, Pullin and even Walding have been having very good spring training showings. As for Imhof, I have to say, that once I understood he was sort of a soft-tosser, I pretty much checked out on him and pretty much the last thing I wanted to hear on top of that was that he also lacks control. If you are taking a soft-tossing pitcher in the second round, you better have a feeling that he’s so craft that he develop into a solid 3 or a great 4 – otherwise, it’s just a really foolish decision.

    I’m not saying that last year’s draft was a bad draft, but, in my opinion, there was a serious measure of desperation in that draft (“we need almost major league-ready replacements and we need them NOW”), which affected some of the picks. About the worst thing they could do to make up for a decade of poor decisions and internal decay is draft players according to need or draft a lower ceiling player over a higher ceiling player because the lower ceiling player is closer to be major league ready as if that would make a really big difference on one of the worst teams in baseball. There may be some short cuts they could take that would help (international signings, good trades, medium level free agent signings) – but that is not one of them.

    1. On Imhof, MLB rates his FB as a 55 with the following statement:
      “He throws his fastball in the upper 80s to low 90s. The pitch plays up, thanks to its natural cutting action and the downhill angle he throws from”

      If he can sit at 91-92 that would be a good thing.
      Perhaps it is too early. Like to see what his velo tops out in May/June.
      But if he does end up being a ‘soft-tosser’, then that could be an issue without the control or command.

      1. Yeah, that would at least be better. But, man, when a team spends second round picks on guys that just flirt with 90 MPH because they are “close” to the majors – I HATE that type of thinking. That’s what got us Andrew Carpenter.

          1. True – I’m just generally complaining about using high draft picks to draft soft-tossing pitchers of any type – soft-tossing righties are even worse. For lefties, at least you have guys like Moyer, Buehrle, Glavine, etc. . . – there are some success stories. For righties, there is literally nobody except for knuckleballers and guys with a trick pitch (Sutter’s splitter, etc. . . ) – when you are righty and you can’t hit much above 90, your best case scenario is as a 4 or 5 – but the most likely scenario is that your career is over before it began.

      2. Imhoff will never top out at low 90’s consistently. He is a soft tosser and that’s the end of that which means he will never move past AA at best. Send him with Tocci to LW where they can keep fooling phillie fans that we have something that we don’t.

  2. Much of this will be impacted by what the Phils do with their 4A guys. If they want several of Danks, Franceur, Bogusevic and Canzler to stick around but, only one of whom gets a major league spot, that might push Altherr down to Reading. It’s not like he did well there last year. Brown played with the AA guys for awhile but we all assumed he would go to CWater and Sandberg would go to Lwood. Tocci to Lwood does make sense since he hasn’t down well there yet.

    1. I’m just worried how Tocci being there will impact Tromp who needs to play everyday also, like Hiciano and Sandberg. And I guess Pujols will start at WSport.

  3. BA came out and has ranked the Phillies farm at 21st.
    Even with the additions of all the new pitchers

  4. Any concern if Knapp starts at Clearwater? I know he’s been hurt and limited, but he was suppposed to be a little more of a quick mover, right?

    1. I’m not concerned. Based on what I’m seeing he might be a quick mover at Clearwater – he’s been knocking the cover off the ball in ST from what I can tell, including multiple home runs.

  5. Does anyone think pullin repeats lakewood because of learning a new position…he hit so well in Lakewood

    1. I think Pullin was drafted in 2012 as an OFer, then converted to 2nd base in 2013 and 2014, so he may be comfortable out in the outfield

  6. Baseball Betsy Tweeted that Samuel Hiciano was taken away on ambulance. Apparently broke his ankle. Hope he’s ok.

  7. Don’t know if I’m just coming off the power trip that was the Phillies, but is anyone concerned that there is only a couple of power hitting prospects in the org? I mean does Pullin have a chance to make it in the OF?

    Also, I’m not a luck person, but now Dom Brown is lame, whats the deal with that??

    Thanks Jim for the great reporting!!!

    1. Its always darkest before the dawn.
      Pullin was drafted as an OFer, so have to assume he can do it.
      As for power and strength, there are Cozens, Hoskins, Green, perhaps Pujols and Encarnacion. Not sure if they are who interest you however.

        1. Good one.
          I guess you can also say Armageddon.
          Just trying to have some enthusiasm, on an otherwise dismal outlook. for 2015.

  8. Here is a post that will get a ton of down votes, but Singleton’s demotion today reminded me of my belief that I have no problem with the deal that acquired Pence. It was selling him for .10 on the dollar that infuriates me. If you look at his WAR, we killed the Astros in that deal IMO. He has been an top RF since 2011. But I don’t understand the rush to sell low on him. That was RAJ’s worst move IMO.

    Ps I think the Howard contract was not RAJ’s decision.

    1. Singleton is a stud. He’s still young.

      The whole Cosart thing on the other hand though… is very interesting.

      1. I think it’s a little early to refer to Singleton as a stud. He could become one, but he didn’t hit very well in the majors last year. He only hit .168/.285/.335 with 134K’s in 362 PA. Albeit with 13 home runs.

        His numbers this spring aren’t much better at .213/.288/.340 and he hasn’t hit any home runs. He’ll spend this season at age 23 so there is certainly time for him to become a stud or at least productive player. However, IMO I think there is a good chance he could be a bust.

        1. High K-rates are problematic to a long MLB career.
          Dom Santana falls into that category also.
          Will like to see how Joey Gallo fares down the road, since he is over 30% in the minors.

      2. Stud? Hmmm i tend to keep my analysis of prospects very simple. I think, at a certain point, they are what they show you they are. Meaning if a 23 yo kid who has shown a consistently high strike out rate throughout the minors, then that is who he is. I think flaws only get magnified at the MLB level, they do NOT get fixed. Sure, you might point to one or two guys who are able to fix major flaws in their game, but the odds are against it. Singleton has been a high strikeout guy with a bad split his entire MiLB career. I highly doubt that changes at the major league level.

        But even so, this will be the 5th year since that trade and he is still not ready for MLB pitching. Pence has been putting up awesome WAR the entire time. The Phillies killed the Astros in that deal. They just messed up flipping Pence to SF.

        1. He wasn’t a fit here and it didn’t work out. Singleton and Cosart may turn out to be complete duds but how can you say that we “killed” them in the trade bc he’s been a top RF in terms of war since 2011? That makes no sense. You have to gauge it based on how he performed here and what the team did with him. It was a complete bust on both fronts. As you mentioned, add the fact that they gave him away just 1 year after trading for him and it is a colossal failure, just like every single move this org has made.

          1. Since 2011, Hunter has the 13th highest WAR for MLB OF (9th highest Offensive WAR).


            5th highest WAR if you just look at RF


            Players like that do not just grow on trees. They are rare players to get. Especially to acquire them in their prime. This will be the 5th season since that trade. Cosart has already been traded and is a major question mark. Singleton can’t make a horrible team even with a MLB contract. He struck out 18 out of 50 spring training ABs.

            If your time period is forever, then you might think it is too early to say the Phillies killed the Astros. But in the real world, GMs don’t have forever. Getting All Star caliber play from a RF for 5 years makes it a slam dunk.

            1. Very good points on Pence. The one thing that I love about baseball is that, unlike, basketball for instance, talent is cumulative. In basketball, if you don’t have a star, you’re pretty much cooked. But in baseball, you can have an accumulation of good to very good players and become an excellent team – the last Yankees dynasty was chock full of really good players, so was the Phillies’ WS championship team. Good players matter and they don’t grow on trees. Take a look at the teams that are consistently strong – they are willing to pay a little extra to secure the good to very good players over long term contracts, which is precisely what the Giants did (and should have done) with Pence. I still have some hope for Joseph, but it was an unnecessary panic move or, more accurately, a move that was necessitated to some degree by other poor decisions (Howard contract, etc. . . . ).

        2. Not true unfortunately. Pence’s WAR after his free agency does not count. As a Phillie he produced 3.1 WAR and Cosart actually gave the Astros 3.2 before he was traded. We made the Pence trade for 1.5 years of control. All the prospects we gave up had 6 years of control. It was just a bad trade even if Singleton never makes it (and I would still bet on him making it to some degree). The Astros also flipped Cosart for Marisnick and Moran among others, two more really good prospects.

          1. Pence never was a free agent. his contract got extended. and even if he was a free agent, why would that not count? having a player on your team always gives you the inside edge to re-sign him. especially if you do it before the player goes on the market, which was the case with Pence.

        3. Agree that the subsequent trade of Pence was the real screw-up, not the initial deal with the Astros

    2. I agree with you about Pence. It was the trade of him to the Giants that was the killer.

    3. True. Worst mistake Phillies have made in this century. Pence is the solid RF we badly need. Even more, he is the righthanded power hitter that we don’t have & have little prospect of getting other than in a Hamels trade. Not even much chance to add right-handed power in the free agent market next winter.

    1. Morgan is pitching and should be in the rotation at Lehigh Valley. Many have reported on his progress. He appears to be building arm strength and, at times, throws almost as hard as he did before the surgery. I saw him in action in ST and he is a very advanced pitcher, with a good approach and multiple pitches, many of which flash above average to almost plus. If he can sit 90-92 and touch a bit higher and can hone his command, he still might have mid rotation upside. His return is very encouraging and his surgeon seemed to think there was no reason he couldn’t return to being his old self.

    2. Jack,questions about minor league players are rarely off topic. Now if you had asked about Cliff Lee, that would have been better placed in the open discussion.

      Catch gave you a good update on Morgan. I haven’t seen Watson in over two weeks when he has taking part in PFPs. That doesn’t mean he’s not throwing somewhere down here. He could be back on the mounds between the buildings , out of our view. Or pitching with the travel groups when I’m at the Complex or at the Complex when I’m at the Blue Jays camp or in Bright House. Or with the XST kids while I’m over with the affiliate groups.

      They don’t post line ups until just before the games, and never post who’s pitching. When I see interestin pitching prospects, it’s a matter of luck and being in the right place at the right time.

      1. Jim is it just me. But watching on tv the stadium looks empty Compared to other years.

        1. Yeah, I was at the games yesterday and today. The attendance each day was 5800 and 6400. I was in the Tiki Terrace and it was half empty. The Terrace sells out first among advance sales, so apparently a lot of people just didn’t show up. While the total attendance was higher than last year, they lost a big crowd in 2014 when St. Patrick’s Day was rained out. This season’s average dipped below 8000.

  9. Kudos on these wonderful reports & thank you so much. We would not know any of this if it weren’t for you.

  10. Jim- I read in, that Jesse Biddle had trouble getting his arm and elbow loose in the fifth inning, which led to two walks in the inning and Biddle getting behind in the count to two other batters in the inning, so they took him out. Do you have an update on his arm? is he just going through a dead arm period?


    1. Nothing concrete. He was walking around the Complex an inning after he left the game. No obvious problems. After falling behind his last batter he was stretching his arm above his shoulder. This motion brought the trainer out and he was subsequently removed from the game. Let’s hope the move was cautionary and that he’ll be fine.

    2. The Ironpigs writer for e-mailed me back, and said that it’s just general soreness/tightness. But he also said that could change in a couple days…

    3. Apparently, Jesse was experiencing cramping in his arm, but played catch on Friday, and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today. So, nothing serious.

    1. I’m sure everyone has an opinion on this one. My feeling is that Nola’s ceiling is as a 2/3 starter while his floor is a #5 starter. I think he’ll be a major league starter for sure. As for Eflin, I think he’ll be a major leaguer as well but his ceiling and floor are slightly lower than Nola’s. Eflin’s ceiling is as a 3/4 starter while his floor is as a reliever in the pen. Imhof looks to have a lower ceiling as a 4/5 starter with a floor as a minor leaguer. Injury obviously changes everything.

      1. Imoff will never smell MLB. AA ceiling only cause we have so much $$$ in him and we can’t look that stupid all the time.

  11. Outfield “Prospects”

    Tocci- very soft player. Limited power and body will not fill to what you all are thinking. By AA, he will be exposed. Also, terrible clubhouse guy. Not well liked by any means

    A. Brown-Most legitimate chance of making it. Dodging test

    Pujols- broken hand. Bad attitude. Great power. Bad defense. AA at best.

    Tromp- Most likable and most consistent. Great guy in clubhouse

    Pullin- Solid all around. Quit guy. Will consistently move up. Size is unreliable

    Cozens- Big, loud, proud. Better pitching will watch those k rates sky rocket.

    Sandberg- Football player playing baseball. Mentally as weak as they come. Starts hot cools fast.

    Rodriguez- Orginizational guy. They will never let him pass up “The Prospects”

    Quinn- Stud. Built like a smaller Endy Chavez but we’ll see if the body holds up

    Hiciano- Lazy. Doesn’t seem to show tools

    Perkins- Pence 2.0 if you’re lucky. Lots of k’s but solid guy

    Harris- Spring Training All-Star. See Parr from last year……

    Encarnacion- Actually 23. Where’s his value now?

    1. I don’t usually post, but i do read this site and “philliesphans” often. I’m not sure i’ve seen your s/n before. You seem very down on the organization – mgmt and players. What was your role in the organization, and how recently ?

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